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February 11, 2013

Mike Olt looking to improve outfield skills

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Mike Olt heard the trade rumors all off-season, how he likely would have been part of the Texas Rangers’ package if they landed either Justin Upton from Arizona or James Shields from Tampa Bay.

None of those trades materialized, though, and Olt remains in the Rangers organization. He has a chance to break camp with the big-league team, too, especially if he shows he can be a reliable replacement in the outfield. That would increase Olt's versatility to include the outfield and corner infield positions.

Having Olt as an option for right field would also lessen the burden on the Rangers should Nelson Cruz be suspended for 50 games after he was linked to performance-enhancing drugs. ANGELS_RANGERS_051_24047325

Olt has seen time in the outfield in his career, starting in right last August at Yankee Stadium. His inexperience showed up, however, when he dropped a routine fly ball. But that's a distant memory for Olt.

“I should’ve caught it, but it’s not like I was uncomfortable out there,” Olt said. “I felt I made a good route to the ball. ... I will be comfortable once I practice. I just never practiced, so once I practice I can be really good.”

Olt played about eight games in right field in the winter league, and has been going through outfield drills for the two weeks at the Rangers' complex in Surprise.

He would like to break camp with the big-league team, of course, but understands that decision is ultimately up to the front office.

“If they feel I can contribute better off the bench in the early part of my career, that’s fine,” said Olt, who has no lingering effects from the plantar fasciitis that sidelined him late last year.

“If they want me to go play everyday and wait for another opportunity, that’s where I’ll go.” 

-- Drew Davison

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